Dental Laser Therapy and You
You might be familiar with some of your dentist’s more common dental tools like scalers and mirrors. But did you know they can also use lasers? While patients might immediately think of ray guns or light shows, lasers aren’t science fiction. In fact, dental lasers are state-of-the-art tools that can be used as part of any comprehensive oral health care plan.
What is Dental Laser Therapy?
In dentistry, dental lasers are versatile tools that can be used in almost any field, with laser therapy referring to any treatment that includes a laser as part of its practice. Lasers don’t replace traditional dental therapies but make existing ones faster and more comfortable for patients.
While there are many kinds of dental lasers, one of the most popular is the diode laser. These lasers do not affect hard tissues like your teeth and are safe to use on soft tissues, such as your gums. This property allows diode lasers to be used in gum treatments like laser bacterial reduction (LBR) and laser decontamination (LD).
What is Laser Bacterial Reduction (LBR)?
Laser bacterial reduction (LBR) is a painless, fast, easy dental procedure that eliminates harmful bacteria from your mouth in a matter of minutes. By focusing the laser in and around your gum pockets, LBR kills the harmful bacteria that hides there, which, if left untreated, could lead to gingivitis and tooth decay.
When used in conjunction with your dentists’ regular teeth cleaning, LBR can improve your oral health in several ways. Eliminating the harmful bacteria from the gums and mouth can help prevent infection, boost your immune system, reduce gum inflammation, and protect you from other inflammation-based diseases that might make it into your bloodstream through the gums.
LBR can also be effective when used as part of a deep tooth cleaning. After your dentist removes the plaque and tartar from your gum pockets around your teeth, the diode laser can kill the bacteria in those pockets and seal them up, speeding up your recovery.
What is Laser Decontamination (LD)?
Using the same diode laser as laser bacterial reduction but at a different wavelength, a laser decontamination treatment (LD) is typically used after nonsurgical periodontal therapy, such as scaling or root planting. Instead of sweeping a wide area and hitting everything around it like in LBT, the LD acts like a heat-seeking missile, zeroing in on diseased gum tissue and destroying the pathogens within, leaving the healthy tissue behind. The laser stimulates the tissue in the process, promoting the body’s healing response.
Is Laser Therapy Safe?
Absolutely. Laser therapy has been around since the ’90s and has only gotten more sophisticated in the years since. Dental lasers have been proven completely safe and approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration (US FDA) for periodontal treatment, periodontal cosmetics, crown lengthening, implant preparation, and other dental procedures. While some people have voiced their concern that lasers shouldn’t be used in dentistry and that more research needs to be done on their use, the results have been positive for decades.
Why use Laser Therapy?
Diode lasers are the best when it comes to destroying disease and cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Regular LBR treatments have been shown to reduce the number of long-term bacteria that cause periodontal disease by almost 100% for up to six months and are more effective than typical preprocedural rinses at eliminating bacteria during a dental cleaning. While rinses can reduce bacteria in the mouth, the diode laser reduces bacteria inside the groove of your gum line where your dentist’s instruments will go preventing cross-contamination. Additionally, LBR therapy decreases the microbial content within the mouth, limiting the number of microbes sent into the air during a procedure, helping prevent the spread of disease.
What is the Laser Therapy process?
The actual process of LBR is fast and straightforward. Your dentist will take a diode laser and sweep it just below the gum line on both sides of each tooth for between five to ten seconds. That’s it. The entire process only takes about five minutes to complete in itself. But since LBR isn’t used alone, you will have to consider what other therapies your dentist is combining with it.
What Should I Expect from Post Laser Therapy Care?
Because LBR therapy is a non-invasive procedure, you won’t have to worry about any symptoms or side effects from the procedure itself. But because LBR is used with other techniques, you may still experience some side effects from the other treatments. For instance, if your dentist uses laser therapy along with a deep cleaning to treat the effects of gingivitis, you may experience a small amount of bleeding afterward, but this would be from the gum disease, not the laser treatment.
What Other Uses Does Laser Therapy Have?
Besides destroying harmful bacteria in the mouth, lasers can also be used in dental surgeries. Laser assisted periodontal therapy (LAPT) is a minimally invasive treatment used to treat periodontal disease, the advanced form of gingivitis. LAPT uses a laser to target and destroy diseased gum tissue and the bacteria trapped within periodontal pockets. This treatment provides a gentler and more comfortable experience for patients than traditional oral surgery as only the diseased tissue is removed, which results in less bleeding, pain, and swelling. It also benefits from only requiring half the number of visits a traditional dental surgery usually requires.
Lasers can be used to make existing operations less painful. For example, lasers can make the fluid that flows out of dental tubules more viscous. This process slows the liquid down, which helps to reduce the pain a patient feels when a powerful rush of liquid strikes their sensitive nerves.
Diode lasers have also been shown to effectively treat and speed up the recovery time of herpes lesions and aphthous ulcers. In the same way LD treatment penetrates the soft tissue to target the disease within, the laser destroys the herpes virus, allowing the body to start healing faster, providing immediate relief and preventing future outbreaks in the area treated.
Finally, lasers can be used in cosmetic dentistry as well. In laser teeth whitening, a concentrated whitening gel is placed on your teeth. Then, a laser is used to heat the gel, activating the chemicals within and enhancing its whitening power. Unlike other whitening treatments, the laser allows the gel to work fast, and most patients notice a marked improvement with just one treatment.
Your mouth is a vital part of your overall health. Gingivitis and periodontal disease have a way of sneaking up on us when we’re not paying attention. If you’d like to make an appointment to see how your gums are doing, or if you would like to know more about how the dentists at keith + associates can use laser therapy to give you your healthiest smile, give us a call at 913-384-0044, use our Contact Form, or schedule an appointment with us online.